The Georgia Dome. This venue has hosted many major sporting events such as Super Bowls, Final Fours and SEC Championship Games. But, it’s also been a venue that I have grown to hate and dread going to over the last decade. It is truly where I learned the truth about despair. A place where I’ve learned the true depths of UT’s failures. It all started with a surprise trip my Senior Year of high school to watch the Vols take on LSU for the SEC Championship and has led to heartbreak after heartbreak ever since. Let’s take a look back at every game I’ve attended at the famed dome in the capital of the South:
2001 SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Tennessee came into this game looking to win it’s 3rd SEC Title in the last 5 seasons and clinch it’s spot in the BCS Championship Game. It wouldn’t happen. After knocking out LSU’s starting Running Back and Quarterback, LSU rallied against the Vols and defeated UT 31-20.
2002 CHICK-FIL-A PEACH BOWL
Maryland dominated UT in route to a 30-3 victory.
2003 CHICK-FIL-A PEACH BOWL
The Vols came in favored over the Clemson Tigers. The Tigers jumped on UT early and the Vols were never able to recover and lost 27-14.
2004 SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
The Vols held their own against the #3 ranked Auburn Tigers, tying the game at 28 in the 4th Quarter. But, Auburn took over and ended the Vols hope of another SEC Crown with a 38-28 victory.
2007 SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Tennessee had yet another SEC Title in hand against LSU, but two Erik Ainge 4th Quarter INTs helped the Vols lose yet again to LSU, 21-14.
2008 SEC MEN’S BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT
UT came into the Tournament as the #1 seed and was the favorite to win the whole thing. After a come from behind victory over South Carolina, I stayed for the night cap in the Dome which featured Mississippi State and Alabama. During that game, a devastating tornado hit the Dome. Instead of continuing games at the dome, the SEC decided to move games to Georgia Tech’s Alexander Memorial Coliseum and allowed no one but family and friends into the games. I would see no more games and Tennessee lost in OT to Arkansas in the semifinals.
2009 CHICK-FIL-A BOWL
UT lost to Virginia Tech 37-14 on New Year’s Eve. Tennessee had a chance to swing things in their favor, but Denarious Moore dropped a sure TD catch and the Vols were never able to recover.
As I finish this post, I have to borrow a line from Bane in the The Dark Knight Rises:
There’s a reason why this dome is the worst hell on earth for a Vol fan… Hope. Every Vol fan who has ventured here over the last decade has looked up to the scoreboard and imagined victory. So easy… So simple… And like shipwrecked men turning to sea water from uncontrollable thirst, many have died trying. I learned here that there can be no true despair without hope.
Will I escape The Dome this Friday like Bruce Wayne escaped The Pit in TDKR? All Bruce had to do for three months was push ups, sit ups, and pull ups. All I have to do is show up to my seat and hope Derek Dooley and company can defeat an opponent that they’ve showed over the past two seasons they can’t defeat. I must escape the dome a victor this week or I will have no need to return to Knoxville until the Georgia Dome is ashes.